UCSB students, faculty and community members gathered this past weekend at People’s Park for an Occupy Isla Vista demonstration.
The rally began Saturday at 3 p.m. and featured musical performances, poetry recitals, workshops and featured speeches from several university staff members. An estimated 150 to 200 demonstrators attended the event, though numbers dwindled in the later hours, with roughly 50 protesters remaining for the Occupy Isla Vista’s first General Assembly at 6 p.m.
According to organizer and UCSB graduate student Vikas Malhotra, demonstrators will continue to assemble in compliance with local laws, including an ordinance prohibiting overnight camping in I.V. parks.
“For right now, the most efficient means to keep this going is to really work with the community and the police,” Malhotra said.
Protesters posted signs with slogans such as “The Bill of Rights is our permit” and “There is no government like NO government” around canopies and blankets, and placed an inverted American flag near the sidewalk. Although the rally remained peaceful, the event was monitored by a noticeable police presence throughout the day and into the night.
Isla Vista Foot Patrol Lieutenant Ray Vuillemainroy said protestors cooperated with authorities during the weekend occupation.
“I appreciate [the demonstrators’] rights to freedom of speech and assembly,” Vuillemainroy said. “I would hope that they would continue to obey the laws and to be civil.”
Fourth-year history major Michael Schirtzer, who has participated at both Occupy I.V. and Occupy Santa Barbara, said the local protest aims to engage a younger demographic in the national movement.
“[Our goal is to] inform, organize and create a meaningful and cooperative dialogue in the community … and to show the world that students are just as active a political body as ever,” Schirtzer said.
According to demonstrators, Occupy I.V. intentionally lacks a formal administrative structure and occupiers make collective decisions during general assemblies. Although members are encouraged to contribute to the movement, the group has not formally requested or accepted any donations.
As of press time on Sunday evening, roughly 15 people remained in the park. Members said they intend to maintain a small presence in the coming week.
Occupy organizers will also host meetings every Tuesday at 10 p.m. next to Coffee Collaborative and every Sunday at 5:30 p.m. at People’s Park. For more information, visit occupyislavista.org.